January 2001
What we'd like this year!

Our 2001 Wish List.

General thoughts
Our general hopes for this year are for success in all developments which promise genuine extra variety in radio and draw in a larger audience. In the latter frame, we'd particularly like to see more children's radio since this to us is the route to future audiences who want more than a noise backdrop whilst they're driving or wandering around doing something else. And who knows, such programmes might even pull in some of the adults as well judging from the occasional enthusiastic reaction to some radio of youngsters.
Satellite radio.

But first a technological development about to hit the US in the form of satellite radio. This seems to us to fulfill our hopes of offering variety since it's not going to be cluttered with advertisements. It may also draw in a new audience since the technical quality ought to be pristine and some of the services offered, for the in-car audience at least, will be new.
We also confess self-interest because it will, if successful, potentially spur similar developments elsewhere including our European home patch. Also, with a bit of luck, it could have knock-on effects in terms of the size of the audience for digital radio, thus spurring on more receivers which,also with luck, will include some the mass audience feels it can afford.

Digital radio.

Which takes us to the question of digital radio. We just cannot see, when computer prices have dropped so dramatically, why digital receivers need to be anywhere near the price they are. At the moment it may not make sense to go digital if you have a good aerial and receiver set up on analogue radio but if the prices drop to anywhere near the cost of a good analogue receiver then the equation changes.
The services are beginning to come along so what is needed now is a manufacturer with the confidence and vision to go for a mass market.
We'd also like so see some vision in terms of the accessories. Here, how about some inexpensive easy-to-use software, which can connect the receiver to the computer ( or even a box available with the receiver) allowing a simple and easy preprogramming of recordings similar to the way TIVO devices operate. If they can automatically be encoded to compressed formats such as MP3 as well when so desired, a fairly standard hard drive would enable days of recordings to be kept.

The Internet.

And so back to the Internet. Any such device mentioned above would also combine well with Internet audio for those who want to take in distant stations and also, if nothing else, get a bit closer to your own on-demand audio until the big broadcasters start providing more of this themselves.

And finally.

Our final hope here lies in older technology and smaller scale. We'd like to see the growth of low power community radio. In our opinion the opposition to this in the US from the big broadcaster lobby is misplaced. We don't believe in the purity of motives in their stated objections on the basis of interference and think it's shortsighted to oppose such developments for any other reasons such as loss of audience.
In our view, community radio is likely to create new audiences, indeed audiences who might well listento radio at times when they'd normally watch television instead. And if they do, they may well stick with radio in general for longer.
The big broadcasters have the financial clout and technical resources to outperform any community station in terms of anything except the content of the programmes and the contact with the audience. If they have the imagination and are prepared to work at their product, we really don't see that they have much to fear.
Except maybe having to keep the number of advertisements down. And that to us can't necessarily be all bad to anyone but the accountants since it would put the pressure on for more technological developments such as digital (there we go again) which can accommodate more channels and thus give more choice.

A happy 2001 to all -- and please comment on the above. For that matter, if you can put the time aside, we'd like to introduce some "Guest comment" pages this year to stimulate more feedback and dialogue.

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